Understanding the Challenge

The Living Building Challenge is the built environment's most rigorous performance standard. It calls for the creation of building projects at all scales that operate as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature's architecture. To be certified under the Challenge, projects must meet a series of ambitious performance requirements over a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy. 

The Living Building Challenge is comprised of seven performance areas, or ‘Petals’: Place, Water, Energy, Health & Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty. Petals are subdivided into a total of twenty Imperatives, each of which focuses on a specific sphere of influence. Click the image below to download the Living Building Challenge 3.0 Standard. 

This compilation of Imperatives can be applied to almost every conceivable Typology, or project type, be it a building (both renovation of an existing structure or new construction), infrastructure or landscape. The Living Community Challenge provides a framework for community development. Naturally, strategies to create Living Landscapes, Infrastructure, Renovations, Buildings or Communities will vary widely by occupancy, use, construction type and location – this is necessary – but the fundamental considerations remain the same. Learn more about Typologies.

Each project must identify its Living Transect, or intensity of development surrounding its site. There are six Living Transects, ranging from Natural Habitat Preserve to Urban Core. Learn more about Transects.

Two overarching rules govern the Standard:

1. All Imperatives assigned to a Typology are mandatory. Some Typologies require fewer than twenty Imperatives because the conditions are either not applicable or may compromise other critical needs. However, teams are encouraged to integrate the optional Imperatives into their projects wherever possible. 

2. Living Building Challenge certification is based on actual, rather than modeled or anticipated, performance. Therefore, projects must be operational for at least twelve consecutive months prior to evaluation.